354. The Die Is Cast
FORMULA: Defiant + Visionary + The Search
WHY WE LIKE IT: You been bitch-slapped by the Dominion!
WHY WE DON'T: Lovok the robotic Romulan.
REVIEW: The Die Is Cast doesn't quite match the wit of Improbable Cause, but it still scores a lot of points. Part of the problem is that after that opening chapter with Garak and Odo, you don't really want to get back to the rest of the crew. That part of the episode flounders for a while with token scenes (Bashir and O'Brien's lunch) and Admiral Toddman's TOS-inspired background. Wow, that is old school.
Meanwhile, Tain and Garak do a fair bit of talking, mostly worthwhile thanks to the story about Garak breaking a man just by staring at him for four hours ("those eyes... those eyes..."), and the leader of Tal Shiar fleet, Lovok, is introduced. Sadly, he's an automaton with not one speck of Tain's charm. Garak's interrogation of Odo shows us that the tailor has, over time, been "corrupted" by DS9 and is, for better or worse, a good guy, even though he makes a good point about his betrayal not being one at all. Finally, it's Odo that breaks Garak without really trying to, and the secret revealed is as poignant as the two men's final resolution. It makes sense to pair these two exiles up.
Back at the station, things are finally starting to move, with the Defiant setting off against orders. It's a bit of dilemma I could have done without, especially since Toddman might promote Sisko as much as court martial him for it, but it does give Eddington a chance to do something. He's coming late to the party after being introduced at the start of the season, but his sabotage of the Defiant, especially in light of his ultimate fate, presents a man who always sticks by his word... just be careful who he gives that word to!
And then we find out that the Founders are in a totally other league than the Order or Tal Shiar when it comes to scheming, resulting in the first of many incredible space battles the Dominion arc will give us. The Defiant's gonzo phasers still impress, and there's lots of wonderful explosions and debris floating around. Tain is thunderstruck and the Julius Caesar conversation from the previous episode pays off beautifully.
LESSON: There's always a smarter fish in the pond.
REWATCHABILITY - High: Though not as tight as the first part of the story, The Die Is Cast nonetheless has a lot going for it, from the wrenching interrogation scene to the beautiful space action.